Thiel Fellowship Shows College Could Delay One's Dreams


Eden Full Goh, founder of SunSaluter, a solar panel rotator design company, started her company at a young age because of The Thiel Fellowship. The fellowship gives $100,000 to young people who want to build new things instead of sitting in a college classroom.

In 2011, investor, entrepreneur, and Trump advisor Peter Thiel launched a program that awards $100,000 to promising young entrepreneurs who are willing to drop out of college to turn their bright ideas into real businesses. Dozens of technology prodigies have passed through the program, with mixed results. While plenty of Thiel fellows return to school after their two-year deployment in Silicon Valley, California, a few go on to create venture-backed startups worth millions.

“Thanks to the Thiel Fellowship, access to some of the nation’s most successful businesspeople is quick and easy,” said the New York Time.

Goh’s SunSaluter was her focus during the two-year program. SunSaluter is a low-cost, passive, single-axis solar panel rotator called a tracker. The SunSaluter boosts energy output by 30 percent by keeping a solar panel oriented towards the sun throughout the day. With improved efficiency, fewer solar panels are needed, and the overall cost per watt of solar energy is reduced. Conventional solar trackers use complex electronics, which make them more than 30 times as expensive and prone to failure. That's why solar trackers have never made sense for the developing world - until now. SunSaluter is now boosting solar electricity output in 18 countries in Asia and Africa.

Goh’s decision to go back to Princeton after the fellowship was on her own terms.

“I strategically picked only the classes I wanted to take, to give me the technical fluency I wanted and to minimize my time on campus,” said Goh. Ultimately, she did drop out again.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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